83 pages 2 hours read

Ursula K. Le Guin

A Wizard of Earthsea

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 1968

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Important Quotes

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“Only in silence the word, only in dark the light, only in dying life: bright the hawk’s flight on the empty sky.”

(Epigraph, Page n/a)

This excerpt from an ancient song reappears at the end of the novel; Vetch recalls it after Ged faces the shadow for the final time. It references the idea that contrast is necessary for wholeness, a theme that runs throughout the novel. Ged is also very connected with birds of prey, deepening the connection to the lyric.

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“This was Duny’s first step on the way he was to follow all his life, the way of magery, the way that led him at last to hunt a shadow over land and sea to the lightless coast of death’s kingdom. But in those first steps along the way, it seemed a broad, bright road.”

(Chapter 1, Page 6)

This quote is referencing Ged—Duny was the name he was born with. It foreshadows the quest that Ged undertakes over the course of the novel, speaking in terms that sound metaphorical but end up being literal.

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“He looked down at his arms, wet with cold fog-dew, and raged at his weakness, for he knew his strength. There was power in him, if he knew how to use it…but need alone is not enough to set power free: there must be knowledge.”

(Chapter 1, Page 10)

Ged struggles with this feeling even after he begins his education on Roke; he constantly feels like his strength and potential outpace his knowledge and the things that people are willing to teach him. This is one of the factors that leads him to unleash the shadow as an attempt to finally exercise his true power.